Winter brings new hazards and challenges for seniors receiving at home care. The effects of cold weather, winter storms, snow, and ice present a special risk for even the healthiest among us and can be treacherous for those with poor balance and circulation. By preparing for winter conditions and following these safety tips, seniors can safely navigate through the winter with good at home care.
- Stay Prepared
Listen to weather reports and know when bad weather is expected. Stock up on extra medicines, food, water, batteries, and other necessities and prepare for whatever the storm brings. Plan to stay inside until bad weather passes. Have a backup power source for medical equipment.
- Stay Connected
Always take a cell phone with you and let others know where you will be. Set up a buddy system with neighbors and check on each other regularly.
- Seek Help When Needed
Enlist the help of a relative, neighbor, or local service provider to keep your walkways and steps clear of ice, snow, and debris. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Good at home care includes help with all the extra stresses that winter brings.
- Dress Appropriately for the Weather
If you need to go outside, even for a few minutes, take the time to bundle up in layers of clothing and wear a hat and gloves. Hypothermia can set in very quickly in cold weather, especially for seniors. Watch for warning signs, including cold skin that is pale or ashy, confusion, tiredness or sleepiness, slowed breathing or heart rate, or problems with balance or walking. Call 911 if you or someone else is experiencing hypothermia.
- Winterize Your Car
If you drive, take the time to prepare your car for winter weather before it arrives. Get your car serviced and check the oil, antifreeze, battery, tires, and wipers. Keep a winter travel kit in the trunk that contains some first aid kit, extra blankets and warm clothes, booster cables, a windshield scraper, extra water, shelf-stable foods, and a map. Hopefully, you will never need these items, but if you do, they could be lifesavers.
- Use Heaters Safely and Check Them Every Fall
During cold weather, it is common to use the fireplace and alternative heat sources. Prepare for the winter season by cleaning and checking your fireplaces, wood and gas stoves, and other heating appliances before use. Even a small problem can leak dangerous concentrations of carbon monoxide or start a fire.
- Prevent Falls
Ice and snow cause slippery conditions and make it difficult to maintain your balance. Make sure your steps and walkways are clear before you go out. Wear non-skid boots and use handrails on steps. Better yet, stay indoors until conditions improve. Get good help and at home care so that you do not need to be out in poor weather.
- Eat healthily, get plenty of sunshine when the weather is good, and take your vitamins and medications. Keeping your bones and body healthy is important at all times of the year, but may be more difficult during the winter.
Winter safety is especially important for seniors and poses extra challenges for all of us. With good planning and at home care, you and your loved ones can stay safe throughout the winter months. If you would like to talk to us more about how we can assist your elderly loved one this winter, contact us or call today!